XENIA — For the first time since the mid-1990s, Xenia will have a K-9 officer patrolling the streets.
Koda, a German Shepherd from the Czech Republic, is a 14-month-old puppy and is the newest addition to the Xenia Police Division. Koda will work alongside Officer Dan Smith.
“He’s very friendly, he’s very sociable,” Smith said of his new partner. “Everything’s new, his nose is to the ground, he wants to sniff everything.”
Koda will be used to sniff out narcotics, for searching, and for apprehension. All of that work will come after an intense 12-week training course he and Smith will undergo together in Kettering. Koda is what’s known as a “green dog,” which means he has not had any prior training.
Dogs that are shipped from overseas for the purpose of becoming a K-9 officer have very little human interaction before they’re paired with a handler.
“The idea behind that is to allow that very special bond between the handler and the dog. And so that’s very new to him as well, the human affection and just interaction in general,” Smith said.
During his academy training, Koda will learn basic obedience, bite work, narcotics detection, and how to track. Some of these skills, like tracking, come very naturally to Koda. German Shepherds are known to be intelligent dogs and typically easy to train, especially Koda.
“That’s one of the things we noticed,” Smith said. “He keys in on the handler, has attention to detail, and stays on task.”
Adding Koda to the Xenia Police Division is an expensive project and was made possible through AKC Reunite, a non-profit organization that supports working K-9s among other efforts. It also gives about 200 grants across the US each year and Xenia was one of the recipients.
Carol Frank-Poore with the local chapter of AKC Reunite was instrumental in the process of helping the Xenia Police Division obtain Koda.
“She was a godsend in this entire thing,” Smith said. “She helped us work through the grant process and really proactively went after helping us to secure the dog.”
Koda will officially be a licensed OPOTA (Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy) K-9 in July, and will be making the rounds in the community to get to know everyone. He will get to work in August and Smith is excited to hit the ground running.
“We have struggled over the last few years with drugs in our community, it’s one of the big things, kind of deterring criminals working in the community,” Smith said. “It’s kind of a known fact the jurisdictions around us that have dogs, the criminals know that and it’s a pretty big deterrent to run from the police, and to do business in our community. The idea behind this is it give us a tool to take some of that off the streets and make our community a safer place to live.”